The organizers of the popular Billy Barker Days Festival have made the sad but not entirely surprising decision to officially cancel the 2020 festival.
“The executive and members of the Billy Barker Days Society have been carefully watching the provisions and restrictions surrounding activities while the world fights COVID-19,” Janice McLean, president of the Quesnel Billy Barker Days Society, said April 18 in an update posted on the society’s Facebook page. “We have deliberately waited to cancel the festival and any related activities in the remote chance that things would improve to a point that we could do something in the community, even if it was different than in other years. [Provincial Health Officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced that social distancing will remain in place for some time to come. As we have repeatedly said, our No. 1 priority is the safety and well-being of the community.”
The four-day festival had been scheduled for July 16-19, and the Quesnel Billy Barker Days Society had said earlier this month that the festival would continue, although the dates and events may have to change.
“The decision is very easy to make because it is the obvious one in that we no way want to hinder the work to protect against the virus,” says McLean. “We would in no way put the festival before the safety of the people. Having said that, it is a very sad day for the society, as well as for those that look forward to the festival for their enjoyment or as an important source of income. It is a step that we have to take for the good of all. Billy Barker Days will do its part by staying isolated this year, but rest assured, just like everyone else, we look forward to a return to somewhat normal activities when the time is right. We will be stronger for having made this sacrifice.”
The Quesnel Rodeo, which had been scheduled for the same weekend in July, has also been cancelled due to COVID-19.